Tag Archives: Bento Boxes

Banzai & Miyamoto Montreal Bento

Yesterday I finally stopped in to Banzai and Miyamoto in Westmount/NDG, Montreal. I was hoping for a lot when I went to them seeing as all the forums say to go there if you want to find bento in Montreal. I ended up being dissapointed at both of their selections of bento, but I did make some purchases.

First I went to Banzai which is on boul Decarie and rue Sherbrooke Ouest (2120 boulevard Decarie, Montreal, H4A 3J3, t: 514.484.4529) right beside the Play it Again Sports. It looks like it is going to be small from the outside but the inside is rather huge. On the right I found a number of kitchen supplies including frying pans, tea sets, accessories, etc, and Bento! Their selection was rather limited however. They sell Lock&Lock, and similar brands for 40$-60$ (including a HUGE Lock&Lock for picnic/family size). The also sell a lot of the children PORORO bento and cups, etc. However, they also had another bento that came in either pink or blue, one tier, with build in separation, that featured either an otter or dolphin stencil on it for $2.99! So at that price (In Montreal?!) I couldn’t resist, and purchased the pink one. I did see that the blue dolphin one was also priced at 6.99$ but the size didn’t seem to be any different so I don’t know what that was about. The lid is loose so you would have to have an elastic band to keep it secure because you can easily lift of the lid. But for 2.99$ how could you say no? The dolphin one was blue with darker blue dolphins painted on. I didn’t think it was that cute, but if your are a dolphin person maybe you would like it. I didn’t see any bento accessories at all, and when I asked the gentleman working didn’t know what I was referring to. I also found, for the first time ever, chopsticks with the Lucky Cat image on them(!!) for 2.99$.  When I got them out of the package they have a rough texture to them as well. I wish I ended up buying another set. I also found some great bamboo (maybe?) food picks for 1.99$ that are perhaps too long for a bento but would look really pretty at a dinner party. You can see those in the very first image. Banzai also had a massive selection of fresh, frozen and packaged foods, and overall was very inexpensive on everything. I definitely suggest people to visit if they are in the area, but I would say that (at least when I went), their bento selection was nothing special.

Then I walked over to Miyamoto on Victoria Ave just off of rue Sherbrooke Ouest, which is small, but has a beautiful selection of tea/cooking sets in the back (all very pricey however). I searched all the store shelves looking for bento or bento accessories and was about to leave when, near the counter, I saw a small shelf with, among books, tea sets, etc, were two bento boxes, one long and narrow and one round and more fat, both one tier, with accompanying elastic band, for 25$ each (both were black with a red/white pattern on the lid). They looked good quality (better than my otter bento), but were too pricey for me. I didn’t make any purchases in Miyamoto but it was good to at least see what they had. Lots of food and kitchenware but not enough bento. If your in the area stop by an look, at least for their neat kitchenware.

So to date, I have accumulated five bento boxes (4 in the last week :P). My first was the blue Urara dragonfly bento that I purchased off of ebay, then I purchased the three Glit&Brillia hot pink and green bento (as well as hot dog cutter) at J-Town mall in GTA Toronto, and finally the otter bento from Banzai. Check out my previous posts to find out more about the other places I have found bento and my experience with them. Good luck with your Hunt!


J-TOWN Toronto Bento!

This past week I went to Ontario and on the way to my destination I HAD to stop at J-Town, a Japanese mall in the greater Toronto area. I heard about this area through forums, and I finally got the chance to go. I anticipated to find a mall similar to those in Toronto’s Chinatown, but J-town is a little different. (At any point in this blog you can click in the image to enlarge, and consult the gallery below for more pictures).

The mall has a beautiful entrance and to the left you will find a store dedicated to beauty products. To the right was the entrance to another wing of the building in which all the stores share one open space. Right as you enter you will find the store Silk to your left, this is the store which I found a bunch of great, CHEAP bento! Before moving further on bento, I will say that silk had a wide variety of many kitchen items, kawaii school supplies, and clothing articles. All items were very well priced. The rest of the all was a little difficult to tell where one store ends and another begins, but they have a bakery, grocery area, butcher, etc. Check out their website at: www.jtown.ca

The first thing I grabbed at Silk was the most adorable Totoro keychain (by now I knew I was in for a good day). For $4.50 you could buy Totoro   with little bells in grey, off-white, red, or light blue. All the totoro have a little green bow painted on their head. They had other charms available as well.

Moving to the next aisle I was faced with a whole shelf unit full of Bento! I was startled when I saw they were all less than 5$. Starting from the right, the round clear containers were the cheapest at $2.95; the green/yellow/white poka-dot bento $4.50 and microwave safe; then they had a whole variety of the brand Natural Lunch Time with chopstick&cutlery set at $4.20, a package of 3 miniature bento for $3.50, and the bigger bento ranging from $4.25 to $4.50. Moving still to the left they carried the brightly coloured brand Glit & Brillia where one tier bento were $4.20, and two-tiered at $4.50. The also sold a rice ball box (origini bento) that is 3 tiered but can be made into a single tier for $4.50 (pictures below). They also sold egg molds which came in packages of 2 or 3, for $3.95 to $4.20 a package. These containers varied from fish/car molds as seen below, to stars/flowers/hearts, and even to Quail eggs! In addition to the egg molds, they sold other bento accessories such as the Crab-shaped hotdog cutter which was sold for $2.95, sauce containers shaped including the fish/pig ones for $2.95;  seaweed shape cutter for $3.95; and Glit & Brillia matching chopsticks with case for $3.20.

The store even had more bento just around another corner! After looking at this whole aisle, I found another corner of the store that had plastic lacquer-looking bento in either red or black for $4.25-$4.50. These had really loose fitting lids so I did not purchase any of them, but they came in a variety of sizes.

All of the bento were made in Japan and the majority were Microwave safe. I walked out of there having spent 23$ and wishing I purchased even more.

Ultimately these were my purchases: a pink 1 tier Glit & Brillia, a 2 tier G&B, a 3 tier rice ball and side dish bento, the crab-shaped hot dog cutter, and a Totoro cellphone charm. Out of the packaging they look like this:

The lids of the 2 tier are very insecure so I have to get an elastic band for it before using. I highly recommend stopping in to J-Town and specifically the store SILK, even if you aren’t into bento, because the whole area has so many things and really great looking food! Now if you are bento obsessive like me, these are great options to help you build your collection like me, or if you have kids and don’t want to risk spending 25$ that will end up in the school  lost & found 5 years later.

Again, check out www.jtown.ca for more information location and what all they have to offer. It was 10-15 minutes off the Highway 401 for us to get to by car so it is well worth a quick visit!

Japanese Festival Recap and More Bento!

Today was the 2011 Montreal Japanese Festival (Matsuri). It was the first time I had ever attended the event and it was wonderful! Everyone looked absolutely amazing in their yukata’s, there was wonderful music, delicious looking food (with long lines! haha), and a whole section dedicated for kids. It was really the place to be today.

The highlight of my visit that I am excited to share, is the Collection du Japon booth, with all of their Bento!!!!!!! I had no idea this store had this many types of bento, and even GIANT bento used for picnics! All of the bento pretty well started at 30$ which at first I thought was too expensive, but they are quality bento that are microwave safe and if I were to order something similar on Ebay I would be paying that price anyways, at least this way I would be supporting a local business. They also had matching chopsticks and the material wraps for the bento, they had masks, and anime pins (3$), beautiful yukatas, books … everything! The owner is a wonderful woman as well and I really encourage everyone to check out her store, because I am sure you will find something you love there. I really wanted to buy her whole booth.

Here are the pictures I took of the bento’s Collection du Japon had. I was also told by a lovely girl who was working the booth that the owner can also order a bento she may not have. (click on all photos for larger image)

These bentos are almost all microwaveable safe, and very heavy/durable looking. Definitely not the flimsy cheap boxes. They vary in price but the majority start at 30$ and range upward. The bento on the very bottom row even come with a Furoshiki material wrap!

I was told these huge bento (that I didn’t know existed!) are used more for picnics, they sold for 50$ and 55$. They have absolutely went on my Christmas list.

I was so excited when the girl behind the booth brought these out for me to take photos of as well! I was so surprised they had them, I never thought I would be able to find these in Montreal! Ultimately I was so excited about this booth and to be able to share it with fellow Montreal Bento Lovers. Yes, the price is more than I would prefer to spend, but they really are quality bento boxes that you will have for a long time. I am definitely going to start saving specifically for a couple of these (including the gigantic one!). And if you can’t afford one of these bentos, perhaps you could start by buying one of their matching chopsticks with the case instead (16$).

Here are some other photos of the event. There was lots I did not take pictures of though. If you did not go this year, make sure you put a reminder in your calender for next year, it is definitely a great event for any age.

Panda Love: bento, jewelry, and more

I don’t know if its their stark contrasting colours, their perfectly shaped spots, their rolly-polly bodies, or die-of-cuteness mannerisms, but Pandas are pretty much perfect. This love even spills out to the world of Bento, where their are countless containers and food designs to mimic these Asian bears. In this post I really just want to share some images I have collected of Panda Bento boxes and ideas, and later for more miscellaneous panda goodies. I hope you enjoy!

Panda Bento Boxes
I have to admit, there are some seriously fun panda bento boxes out there (none in Montreal it seem!!! :S ) but nevertheless some fun boxes. This first bento is a design I have not seen elsewhere and if I remember correctly I found it on ebay (got to love that ebay). My absolute favorite bento I have found so far can be seen below. It is simple, not too cartoonish, just the perfect bento box design. And he is even holding an origini! That seems to be the problem with most Panda bento, they are all a bit too childish, and not very translatable to all-ages. In the gallery below I have included all the Panda bento boxes I have come across and enjoyed. If we want to talk about accessories, probably the perfect panda bento accessory is the widely available Panda food picks (see image to the left). These picks really do look adorable in a bento lunch as you can see in the gallery below. You can get these picks all over the internet for about 6$ (with or without shipping depending on the site).

Random Panda
Earlier today I found one of the neatest panda accessories I may have ever seen. Featured on the following website: http://technabob.com/blog/2011/07/11/panda-darake-chopstick-practice/ , for about 25$ you can have a pile of rolly-polly pandas that will help you practice your chopstick skills (lord knows I need it!). The package comes with 12 pandas, a pair of chopsticks, and a small tire and table in order to balance the pandas with. I think it is just the cutest accessory and potentially the cutest distraction someone needs while working hard on a school/business project haha. I also found these equally cute chopstick rests that keep your used chopsticks off the table. Found here: http://item.rakuten.co.jp/pas2/c/0000000237/, the website also offers a number of similar items including pandas with outfits on, and donuts! These really would be the perfect accessory for a dinner gathering!

Panda Jewelry
If you have read my earlier blogs you may get the idea that I am a sucker for a cute key chain or cell phone charm (despite the fact I don’t own a cell phone). It is hard to surf around and find nice looking panda charms that aren’t the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) logo, however if you look hard enough you may be sure to find some cute charms/ jewelry/beads/etc that are the perfect panda–not too cartoonish, not a Hello Kitty dressed up in a panda suit, and not a company logo. I am still looking for my perfect panda charm(s), but for now I still gathering in inspiration.

I hope this post has found you some inspiration to feed your own panda obsessions and collections, and perhaps to make your bento lunches a little more black and white 😉 . Be sure to check out the gallery below for all sorts of Panda goodies.